When Kapil's Devils lived a dream

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/images/thumbnail/ver1/k/kapildev5.jpg' class='caption'> June 25, 1983, the day which gave India its most revered sporting moment till date completes 25 years on Wednesday.

Updated: June 28, 2008 09:47 IST
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New Delhi:

June 25, 1983, the day which gave India its most revered sporting moment till date completes 25 years tomorrow with the nation standing up to salute the 11 inspired individuals who made it happen at Lord's.

Dismissed as a bunch of no-hoppers at first, Kapil Dev and his men defied all odds to clinch the cricket World Cup against the most dreaded team of its era to record the most memorable chapter in India's cricketing history.

The contrast could not have been starker when India took on West Indies 25 summers ago in the World Cup final at the 'Mecca' of cricket -- The Lord's.

The rest, as they say, is history and cricket's very own version of David vs Goliath finished exactly the way the mythical Bible story ended with 'Kapil's Devils' bringing the ferocious Windies to their feet and making many a naysayers eat their words, quite literally.

In his curtain raiser for the World Cup, Wisden co-founder David Edward Frith had famously stated that teams like India should not be allowed to play in prestigious tournaments like the World Cup.

He had promised to eat his words if India won the trophy. After Kapil's men conquered the Lord's, they did not forget to remind Frith of his promise and the English writer was forced to swallow his magazine article, a picture of which was carried in a later edition of the Wisden.

But before this, the underdog Indians had a mountain to climb. Placed in a group comprising defending champions West Indies, Australia and fellow minnows Zimbabwe, Kapil's men were not expected to go beyond the prelims.

However, Kapil's devils had other plans and it all started on June 9, 1983 when the Indians, coming into the tournament with hardly any major international win to their credit, stunned West Indies in their World Cup opener. The 34-run triumph that took two days to come, was, however, dismissed by many as a fluke with some saying that probably Clive Lloyd's troops had a bad day in office.

Yashpal Sharma was India's hero in that stunning win, scoring 89 after Lloyd put India into bat. Ravi Shastri struck with the ball to scalp three wickets in five overs to take the wind out of the Windies' sail.

This was followed by a five-wicket win over Zimbabwe, but the Indians were in for a rude shock as Kim Hughes' Australia decimated them by 162 runs. Next up, the West Indies also took revenge for their opening loss beating Kapil's men by 66 runs.

Successive defeats made the road to knockout stages tough for the Indians but as Kapil puts it 25 years later, the team never wavered in its belief that nothing was unachievable.

And Kapil himself epitomised that belief with the historic 175-run innings against Zimbabwe when the team was five down for a mere 17. His innings was the highest score by an Indian in an ODI at that time -- a record that stood as long as 1999 before Sourav Ganguly bettered it with 183 against Sri Lanka.

They carried the same belief to get even with the Australians by handing them a 118-run thrashing to become unlikely semifinalists against hosts England.

Some said the Indian dream run would end at that and Kapil's men will be brought down to earth by Bob Willis' team after exceeding everyone's expectations. No doubt, the Indians had come a distance even they wouldn't have imagined travelling, when they set foot on English soil.

But it was not to be a dream run that would just end at winning hearts. The increasingly confident Indian side comprehensively beat the hosts by six wickets to enter the finals and the man who booked them a date with history was Mohinder Amarnath, taking two wickets besides adding 46 valuable runs with his willow.

Three days later, the Indians, with nothing to lose and everything to gain, stepped on the hallowed turf of Lord's to face off against a side which had, quite literally, the most intimidating cricketers in its ranks.

And the Windies did make it nightmarish for India bundling them out for 183 with their tail making the most contribution to the score.

But Kapil's men, although down, were not ready to let go of the belief that had brought them so far. Amarnath and Madan Lal combined to wreck the Windies line-up with six wickets apiece. Fittingly Amarnath took the final West Indian wicket to script the most memorable chapter of Indian cricket.

The Lord's stood up to applaud and marvel at the triumph of the underdog, that perhaps heralded the cricket revolution that is now a religion in India.

The BCCI at that time did not have the millions that it doled out for Mahendra Singh Dhoni's twenty20 World Cup winning squad but as Kapil said recently, money never mattered to his men.

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  • Cricket
  • Ramlal Nikhanj Kapil Dev
  • Sunil Manohar Gavaskar

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